Let’s not be fooled by beauty. Some things are not going to be solved, and apologies are misplaced when you follow your principles. But what Ginger and Rosa (Sally Potter, 2012) does not show, is that sometimes principles can be wrong.
‘Ginger and Rosa’ gives us an interesting insight into the past without being just an historical situating of two girls growing up, but which is meaningful to us today. At least, it can be. Faced with a world that does not care, people react the same: they cling to whatever seems meaningful. The abandoned child reacts by entering into a fatal relationship with a father-figure. The child whose parents separate searches for something she can fix: the nuclear threat to wipe out humanity. The fact that these two similar reactions drive a friendship to a breaking point is due to circumstances. In a way the personalities are a distraction from what is really going on. Back then, just as it is now. Faced with nihilism, we need something to hold on to. Even when we know this substitution is a mere distraction.
The imagery in the film is absolutely stunning, as I expected from a Sally Potter movie (The Man Who Cried is still my favourite though). There is a certain slowness to the whole film, without it being obvious or annoying: it gives the whole a natural feeling. Ever seen anyone bite their fingernails in on the big screen, as if she was completely unaware of doing so?
What I would have liked, however, is the ending to have been different. The father is an important figure in the film, boasting about his principles and living by them, even when it hurts all the people around him. And although we might disagree with his principles, there is something heroic about this: choosing a difficult path by not going along with what is considered duty or normal. Then why, in the end, does he apologize for his behaviour? Faced with a world that does not care, he chose to care and be active, consciously. And apologies are totally misplaced when you’ve consciously made your decisions. What you could do in a situation in which you realize what you’ve done hurts others, is to change your principles. But don’t apologize for caring.